Alaska Airlines Profits Despite Pilot Shortage, Operational Challenges

Jul 26, 2017

Alaska Airlines is still ironing out operational wrinkles following the acquisition of Virgin America last year. At the same time, its smaller, regional airline is still grappling with a pilot shortage.




The acquisition of Virgin America gives Alaska Air Group access to larger markets, like San Francisco and Los Angeles. During a quarterly earnings conference call, CEO Brad Tilden said that means the company is dealing with more congestion and constraint. 

 


“It’s not only air space and long taxi times, but the airplane comes in and there’s not a gate available,” Tilden said.

 


Fewer on-time arrivals and more delays and cancellations in the Northwest are the result of a pilot shortage at the company’s smaller, regional Horizon Air. Tilden said they need to improve pilot recruitment and better understand demand. 

 


“I think we fell short there, candidly,” he said. 

 


Meanwhile, Alaska Air group reports a $36 million increase in second quarter earnings compared to last year.